Over a thousand EU nationals living in Birmingham are at risk of becoming “undocumented” in two days as the deadline for immigration status ends on 30 June 2021.
EU nationals who have been living in the UK before December 2020 must apply for an immigration status known as the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021 as a result of the new Brexit arrangements.
Otherwise, they can lose their right to access public services such as healthcare.
Birmingham councillor, Brigid Jones, wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel urging the government to extend the deadline for EU citizens to apply for their immigration status; but the date remains unchanged.
She said that:
“I have written to the Home Secretary asking that the government extends the deadline for people to apply. However, there is no guarantee this will happen, so please do apply if you haven’t already.
“So my message to EU citizens is this: I’m so sorry you are having to go through this but it is so important that you apply so you can stay here with the same benefits you currently have.”
The moves come after a Birmingham City Council report said that 130,000 EU nationals may become undocumented. They are under the threat of losing their access to public services if they do not apply for the right to remain.
But Brigid Jones said that helping people during the pandemic has been challenging:
“What we do know is that the Covid pandemic has significantly impacted the level of outreach, support and advice available and has exacerbated existing challenges for people, as well as their ability to access face-to-face services.
“This predominantly affects households with dependent children, women, survivors of domestic abuse, older people. Surely it’s reasonable to extend the deadline for these and other vulnerable groups.”
The EU Settlement Scheme gives EU nationals the right to remain, work, access healthcare and education, public funds and pensions or apply for British citizenship.
Watch Birmingham Eastside Tik Tok explaining the immigration scheme here.
The latest data shows that “as many as 94,000 EU citizens“ who are living and working in Birmingham eligible to apply. Birmingham City Council estimated that 90% of Europeans have applied, but Brigid Jones points out that there are “gaps in national data”.
“Like other cities across the UK, Birmingham has seen higher than expected application numbers. But gaps in national data mean it’s not possible to accurately say how many more people are yet to apply. “
For now, the Birmingham City Council is urging people to apply for their immigration status. However, EU rights organisations fear that “large numbers of people” who experienced problems or might have been unaware of the deadline might become illegal after 30 June.
EU nationals can apply for their Settlement Scheme on a government website.